National Geographic Presents ‘9/11: One Day in America’

Entertainment Television

There are certain dates in history where those who were alive remember when they heard about a life-changing event. The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th and the space shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986 are two such examples. However, for many of us, we know exactly where we were when we first heard the news of an airline striking one of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. From that moment on, the lives of millions of people changed forever as 9/11 entered the international lexicon. 

As the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks approaches, National Geographic will premiere 9/11: One Day in America, a four-night limited documentary series that chronicles the events of that day—at times minute by minute—through gripping first-person narratives of the first responders and survivors who were there, beginning Sunday, August 29, 2021. The series was developed and executive produced by Emmy Award-winning 72 Films (Inside North Korea’s Dynasty) and Emmy and Academy Award-winning executive producers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin (LA 92, Undefeated). The filmmakers interviewed 54 people for a total of 235 hours over the course of 3 years. They also sifted through 951 hours of archival footage to produce the 7-hour series. 

Executive producers Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin shared:

“Our hope with this series was to bring to the forefront the true human experience of 9/11 in a way that would honor both the victims and the survivors of the attacks that day—a series that forgoes the geopolitical implications and instead focuses on the experience of the people that were there. National Geographic offers unparalleled access in its documentary storytelling, and we couldn’t be more humbled than to partner with our friends at 72 Films, Nat Geo, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum for this project.”

Episode 1: “First Response”

  • National Geographic — Premieres Sunday, August 29 at 9/8c
  • Hulu — Beginning August 30

The series kicks off with a 2-hour premiere. As a hijacked plane hits the north tower, we follow the first firefighters on the scene and their race against time to rescue the civilians trapped above and witness a businessman trying to save the life of a badly injured stranger. As a second plane hits the south tower, no doubt remains: America is under attack.

The world trade center is seen in the New York City skyline. (Library of Congress/Carol M. Highsmith)

Episode 2: “The South Tower”

  • National Geographic — Premieres Monday, August 30 at 9/8c
  • Hulu — Beginning August 31

As an announcement tells people to remain where they are, those in the south tower watch with shock as the north tower is hit by a hijacked plane. When the second plane hits, civilians in the south tower have to find a way to escape from the top floors to safety. Paramedics at street level face an onslaught of both the badly injured and casualties. They race against time to save lives.

Episode 3: “Collapse”

  • National Geographic — Premieres Monday, August 30 at 10/9c
  • Hulu — Beginning August 31

After two planes hit the World Trade Center, a day of terror continues to unfold. Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon, while Flight 93 is hijacked and diverted toward Washington D.C. We follow the heroic stories of military personnel in D.C. and the United 93 passengers as they desperately struggle to save lives. Back in New York, the south tower collapses, unleashing a new wave of casualties.

A New York City firefighter looks up at what remains of the World Trade Center after its collapse following a September 11 terrorist attack. (U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Jim Watson)

Episode 4: “The Cloud”

  • National Geographic — Premieres Tuesday, August 31 at 9/8c
  • Hulu — Beginning September 1

Survivors become separated when they are engulfed by a gigantic dust cloud after the fall of the south tower. We follow them as they wrestle with the trauma of their experiences and desperately search for missing loved ones. When the dust settles after the collapse of the north tower, we witness emotional reunions and heart-breaking losses.

Episode 5: “I’m Coming For You”

  • National Geographic — Premieres Tuesday, August 31 at 10/9c
  • Hulu — Beginning September 1

First responders look at the vast pile of debris at ground zero and wonder how anyone could still be alive. But one group of firefighters who were inside the north tower as it collapsed managed to survive miraculously. Now they are trapped, and as they radio “mayday” for help, other firefighters must race against time to locate and rescue their brothers in a dangerous and unstable ocean of rubble.

An aerial view of ground zero burning after the September 11 terrorist attacks. (Photo Credit: NIST)

Episode 6: “It’s All Gone, Kid”

  • National Geographic — Premieres Wednesday, September 1 at 9/8c
  • Hulu — Beginning September 2

In the aftermath of the towers collapsing, two former Marines and an ex-paramedic head to ground zero to search for survivors. Together they stumble upon two Port Authority police officers trapped 50-feet beneath the rubble. Putting their own lives on the line and against all odds, the volunteers manage to pull off one of the most daring and inspiring rescue stories of the day.

Be Sure to Watch 9/11: One Day in America!

I had the opportunity to screen one of the episodes and was extremely impressed, though some of it was watched through watery eyes. The first-hand accounts by people that were there on the scene, sharing experiences never before told to the public, takes viewers back to that fateful day. Firefighters, paramedics, business people, and others who worked in the towers tell their individual stories that are pieced together to create a solemn mosaic of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. I highly recommend this series and encourage those who remember that day (as well as those too young or not yet born) to watch this event when it premiers on the National Geographic Channel Sunday, August 29th. 

Wreckage and dust in New York City caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks. (Photo Credit: NIST)
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